Acting on our interests refines our understanding of what we are good at and what we value. The experiences we have along the way sometimes introduce us to new values that enhance and enlarge our vision. The lessons we learn through habits of action test our understanding and teach us to identify what matters in our life.
When we make a habit of acting on the interests arising out of our authentic passions, our enthusiasm can open doors before we even realize the potential that lies beyond them.
Habits of action cultivated early in life lay the foundation for unique skill sets able to carve a path beyond the mundane and into the relevant.
The surgical resident interested in learning trauma will bypass a residency at a quiet community hospital for a residency at a fast-paced Level 1 trauma center treating a high volume of trauma patients. A Level 1 trauma center residency is far more rigorous—and not particularly glamorous—but the intensive culture of a dedicated trauma center will cultivate the decisive judgment and action required of a surgeon specializing in trauma. By choice or by chance, we must actively test our limits to know our capabilities.
Studying the rule of law won't make a great litigator. It is the act of trying cases in real courtrooms with real plaintiffs and defendants and judges and juries, week after week and year after year that develops lawyers into top trial attorneys.
Studying the rule of law won't make a great litigator. It is the act of trying cases in real courtrooms with real plaintiffs and defendants and judges and juries, week after week and year after year that develops lawyers into top trial attorneys. ― Marian Deegan
Throughout history, there have been people who mattered more. Some of them, like Ulysses S. Grant and Winston Churchill and Jonas Salk, changed the course of history in grand strokes. Others, like Reuben Styrlund and Dora Salk, made a meaningful difference on a smaller stage...Remembered or not lived out in a small town or on the world's stage, the journey of relevance matters.
Only by digging deep down to the core of our true self can we come to a place of inner certainty. Our underlying values and priorities are our personal navigational stars on life's journey—essential tools to chart a life course that embraces what matters most to us.
Distraction leaches the authenticity out of our communications. When we are not emotionally present, we are gliding over the surface of our interactions and we never tangle in the depths where the nuances of our skills are tested and refined. A medical professor describes the easy familiarity with which her digital-native resident students master medical electronic records—but is troubled by the fact that they enter data with their eyes focused on their digital devices, not on the patient in the room with them. Preoccupation with technology acts as a screen between the student and the patient’s real emotion, real fear, and real concern. It may also prevent these residents from noticing physical symptoms that the patient fails to mention. The easy busyness of medical record entry is a way to sidestep the more challenging dynamics of human connection. But experienced physicians know that interpersonal skills are essential to mastering the art and science of medical diagnosis.
Our lives are marked by the people who choose to matter more: the teacher who encouraged our curiosity, the neighbor who lent a helping hand in time of need, the great leaders and perceptive thinkers whose vision and innovation improve the quality of our lives. And that's what it means to matter more. It's not about pursuit of riches or fame. It's about making a difference in people's lives. Remembered or not, lived out in a small town or on the world stage, the journey of relevance matters.
Any master skill in practice is about comprehending myriad elements and fitting them together in inspired ways that satisfy the objective.
A sous-chef with dreams of her own restaurant empire may have mastered the art of classical French sauce making, but not yet have developed the signature cooking style she imagines as the cornerstone of her own chain of restaurants. She gauges her progress not only by whether she is moving toward her aspirations, but also by her improving skills. Our chef may not yet have the stature of Chef Auguste Escoffier or Emeril Lagasse, but she can remember a time when she could not name the five French mother sauces, let alone execute them. She's made progress. Appreciating the skills she has developed is a marker along the path toward her culinary aspirations. The sense of accomplishment that accompanies improved skills is one of the rewards we reap when we dedicate ourselves to mastery.
How we present ourselves at any given time is dependent on the situation. We constantly balance the tension of high aspirations with the pragmatism of realistic expectations. The key is to represent ourselves in such a way that we can fulfill the expectations we create.
Caring means cultivating the skills of an active listener. That is easier said than done, as an anecdote about the extraordinary social skills of British politicianBenjamin Disraeli and his rival William Gladstone illustrates ... The rivalry between the two statesmen piqued the curiosity of American Jennie Jerome, admired beauty and the mother of Winston Churchill. Ms. Jerome arranged to dine with Gladstone and then with Disraeli, on consecutive evenings. Afterward, she described the difference between the two men this way: When I left the dining room after sitting next to Gladstone, I thought he was the cleverest man in England. But when I sat next to Disraeli, I left feeling that I was the cleverest woman.